Designing the (portable) advisor toolkit.

RBC bank needed to take a deep-dive into their underperforming advisor iPad application. We came on board to polish off this diamond in the rough with a card-based approach to iOS components and new and improved functionality.



Designed at



Lead Designer

Tech Stack

iOS, Swift


Reviewed by CNET


Reinventing the advisor experience for Canada’s number one bank.

RBC’s Global Asset Management division approached us to dig deep into the why behind their existing iPad application. We used human-centered design principles to interview users and re-designed key screens to polish off their experience.



The backstory

Initially released in 2014, the RBC GAM advisor app provides financial planners, wholesalers, and regional sales leaders with the convenience of easy access to financial intelligence on their iPad. Advisors can access industry-leading solutions from income to equities, track client investment performance, and organize content into custom “themes”. With under 1,000 of their 10,000+ advisors onboarded onto the app, it was clear that RBC’s initial application had missed the mark. To polish this diamond in the rough, they asked us to make improvements to the app’s information architecture, user experience, design system, and engagement strategies to polish off this diamond in the rough.





Enthusiastic RBC Staff



Minutes of user interviews



Days of design work





We interviewed financial planners, investment retirement planners, wholesalers, regional sales managers, and RBC stakeholders to help us determine the future of RBC GAM’s iPad application.




The redesign of the “fund list” view was one of the more challeging aspects of the application. We wanted to facilitate the action of adding a fund to a theme, and introduced the briefcase icon to quickly perform this function.    



03. Usability Testing

Power to the people.

We set out to improve the app experience by conducting user interviews with RBC staff. Engagement, adoption and mindshare of the app by advisors were top priorities. We wanted it to add real value for advisors and become an integral part of their daily workflow, client service strategy, and a trusty sidekick for financial intel. Most of all, we wanted to create a tool their were proud to use.

In order to do that, we had to ask a lot of questions: 

“What are some of the biggest pain points in your day-to-day job?”

“ How would you describe this application to a colleague?”

“What other digital tools do you use? Show us how you use them!” 


Synthesizing feedback

We gathered this feedback with open ears and re-designed key screens and features based on it. We brought these newly designed screens back to our original users and asked for feedback. We iterated some more. By unpacking UX direction early on, we were able toiteratively apply key learnings to the project that followed.

Designing feature-by-feature allowed us to focus on one problem at a time and test our solution with the users that use it most. They always brought up valuable considerations and insights that reflected their knowledge of the inner workings of the RBC GAM fund ecosystem and the financial services industry as a whole. 


“If I can take this prototype and recommend changes that will make my job and my colleagues’ jobs easier, (and save a small forest of trees in the process) I’m happy to help.”

Allen LaRose

Financial Advisor, RBC Global Asset Management


Pivot, test. Pivot, test.

We came out of every user interview with actionable feedback, and were able to make changes to our designs within minutes of receiving feedback. We checked in with the RBC stakeholders regularly throughout the project, but ultimately they understood that the users would provide the most valuable feedback on feature improvements.

We were on a first-name basis with a few friendly folks that were more than happy to provide feedback on our proposed changes and validate some of our original assumptions.



Taking our learnings to the bank.

Several recurring themes arose after talking to users. Some were more surprising than others, but we couldn’t have anticipated 90% of them on our own. User feedback is a very powerful tool.  

About halfway through the project, we ended up questioning whether there was even a need for this application at all. Why question a project that is bringing in cold hard cash? Because we give a shit. We care about our clients, and we care about the products they release into the hands of their users. 

We were brought on to re-design key screens based on user feedback. We ended up creating a series of design prototypes, but we learned so much more that couldn’t be applied to a visual design system. There were business design issues too, and team RBC heard them out. We recommended a pilot project to distribute iPads to several key branches and gauge app adoption and usage metrics. We realized that the issue wasn’t only a software issue. Lack of compatible hardware (read: 1 iPad per branch of 5+ staff) was a big problem. Sometimes, you gain insights that affect the success of the software, that have nothing to do with the software at all.